OOOHHHH Final Exams!

My daughter is finishing up high school this month. You may have heard of the program — the International Baccalaureate or IB Diploma Program.

The program is insane – at least in my mind right now. It is testing kids on two sometimes three years of content. Most of these kids were out all of Sophomore and a good part of Junior Year due to COVID and still exams are marching on.

I find myself in a particularly strange spot. I should be providing undying support to my 18-year-old rather than getting her enmeshed in my anxiety. This is really hard for me as college years were the years I first experienced early signs of bipolar. So I worry about the same for her.

All in all, we have less than two weeks to go. So that is great! But it sure would be nice if the IB Diploma Program made some real concessions for studying and mastering content during a world-wide pandemic. I have reached out to the college counselor and he agrees it is an issue globally. So maybe they will give the kids a break?

When is anxiety at its worst?

This is just a quick discussion of any patterns that may exist in my experience of anxiety.

For some strange reason, my anxiety is at its worst when I first wake up and before I have had several cups of coffee – half caffeine and half decaf. It is not a great way to greet the day with full-on anxiety yet that is more often my pattern.

Since developing a walking routine with our new puppy, this morning anxiety has become more of a todo list upon waking which is a welcome change.

It also helps to read the 23rd Psalm outloud upon waking but I do not always do this and haven’t in a while. Perhaps I need to restart this practice.

Usually after my morning coffee my anxiety is still there but tolerable with PRNs.

If you experience anxiety is it ever at the beginning of your day? What are the patterns you see in your anxiety if any?

After several days of CBD oil

Again, this is not a post proposing use of CBD for anxiety or any other mental health condition. It is just my personal experience with using a small amount of CBD oil daily for the last several days. Please don’t consider this a product endorsement or a cure for any sort for mental illness. Please don’t make a change in your medical regimen without consulting a doctor first. Also please be sure if you do take CBD oil you are aware of dosing information. Consult packaging or a health professional for dosing.

I have to say there is some progress with my anxiety after taking CBD oil for a little less than a week. The anxiety does not disappear but it is more easily placed from the front burner to the back burner. This is significant for me as anxiety generally presents itself at the foremost of my thoughts and does not typically minimize itself through self-talk. The anxiety usually may become more manageable with a daily walk or yoga but it generally is difficult to move to the back burner even still. With a walk, the anxiety generally becomes somewhat more responsive to self-talk.

Being able to push the anxiety pot (no pun intended) to the back burner is relatively new to me. This means I am more able to entertain thoughts that are on the front burner. Typically those front-burner thoughts are more observations associated with positive thinking. In front-burnered thoughts, I am more likely to see my blessings and count my blessings. I am more able to see all the things I am grateful for but that I may overlook from time to time. Front-burnered thoughts are more intentional thoughts or thoughts over which I may have some control. Back-burnered thoughts are more automatic and I am less likely to have control over these – such as the anxiety.

Just a thought, it might be nice to talk to some folks who do not suffer from anxiety and ask them about whether front-burnered and back-burnered thoughts work this way for them. I have often thought that having a mental illness such as bipolar means my conscious thoughts are closer to my subconscious thoughts – that’s what makes these thoughts so difficult to manage. For most people it seems that intense fears or intense anxieties exist more at the subconscious level than on the conscious one and are therefore more easy to “silence” or to “manage” if they are not present at the forefront of consciousness.

To repeat in my experience with the CBD oil, the anxiety does not go away but it can be put in greater perspective once the worries move from a front burner spot to a back burner spot.

I will update this blog in another week or so to see if the back-burnering of anxiety-ridden thoughts is able to hold. Thanks for listening. Please share any stories of managing anxiety on CBD oil you may have.

I have started up with CBD oil again

This is not a product endorsement for CBD oil – only a recount of my experience. Please take this into consideration. Thank you.

I have started up with a low dosage of CBD oil again. I am still underwhelmed at the level of dosage information there is on packaging and in general available to consumers but I am trying to take the edge off my anxiety which is presenting with the end of my daughter’s high school career and the beginning of her college years. I have talked this through with my therapist at our last session and with my psychiatrist a year or two ago.

Does anyone have personal stories of CBD oil helping with anxiety? Other stories regarding CBD?

Happy Easter Everyone!

Hello all. I hope you are having a great Easter Sunday or whatever holiday you observe (or don’t observe)! Today I am focusing on being grateful. Even though I have persistent anxiety from my bipolar illness I have lots and lots to be thankful for: my daughter’s health, my daughter’s achievements in school, my husband’s companionship, my Mom’s relatively good health, our new puppy, a psyche doctor and therapist who I trust and consider in my support circle , constant help and support from my sister, and the list goes on….

Can you find it in your heart to be thankful for something today? Even if it as simple as that cup of morning coffee? I hope so.

Have a super day!

I find my anxiety creeping in

In the last week, I have found my anxiety creeping in. My daughter is set to finish high school in about 6 weeks. I think my anxiety is being triggered by all the unknowns that that entails. When is college orientation? How do we pay the college bill without getting a late fee? How many days do we need to drop her off and get her settled in her dorm room? Is my daughter ready to live on her own? What if she experiences some form of mental illness while she is away at college in Boston? How does healthcare work for college students? Does she know how to purchase books? Are there even text books these days? Will she fall in with the right peer group? Is she ready to study on her own?

Looking at all these questions, I think I have the answer for why I am feeling anxious. Any parents of college students care to provide a word of encouragement? Like, this is normal to worry about these things. They do get better and they do get handled! 🙂

Thanks in advance for any words of encouragement and support.

Anxiety and High Blood Pressure

Does anyone with anxiety also experience high blood pressure? When I was pregnant in 2003 I had pre-eclampsia which is high blood pressure associated with being pregnant. After my daughter’s birth, I continued to have high blood pressure. It has been 18 years since and I am still on high blood pressure medicine along with my psyche meds. I recently have had to go up on that blood pressure medicine – metoprolol.

I am wondering out loud if other people who have chronic anxiety as I do associated with bipolar illness also have need of high blood pressure medicine. It makes sense to me that the anxiety could either cause high blood pressure and/or exist correlatively (not causally) with it.

Are there other folks out there who experience anxiety and high blood pressure simultaneously? Do you consider this causal or correlative?

Graphic Visualization of Moods: Does It Help?

It is helpful to me to have a graph of my moods for the day and for long-term.

For bipolar illness it is pretty common to visualize two parallel lines with moods going up and down between those parallel lines. So a person with no bipolar disorder has the same set of parallel lines but the lines are only say 6 points apart – 3 up from zero and 3 down from zero. If 6 units wide is a “normal” mood range, a person with bipolar illness might experience a range twice that wide at 12 units – this is 6 units up from zero and 6 units down from zero. As I have said before, this image of more accentuated mood swings is a pretty standard way of talking about the highs and lows of bipolar illness. Also it has been said that bipolar illness mood swings are similar to normal mood swings – it is only a matter of degree. I might contest that assertion in that bipolar mood swings may be accompanied by anxiety and/or psychotic experience.

So if bipolar mood swings are say twice as high and twice as low as regular normal mood experience, what does the graph look like on any given day? For me there is a pattern to most days that is helpful for me to visualize. Generally, the first moment I wake up is the most anxious. I would start this day’s curve on the high end. As I take my morning meds and wake up to face the day, my mood starts to level out. Late morning and early afternoon are when my day starts to become more productive and with that my anxiety tends to get more under control. Dinner is often a chore to get together but typically this is something I enjoy, so the anxiety seems to be at a low point at dinnertime. After dinnertime is usually my time to watch the news and part of a movie or a TV series. This time is spent with my husband and is generally very relaxing – my anxiety is at a low point in the day. Around 8:45 to 9:15 on a weeknight I go to bed early. On a weekend it may be a couple of hours later. It should be mentioned that this pattern is generally the same whether or not it is a weekday or a weekend.

So for a visualization, my anxiety starts at a peak in the morning when I awake and typically falls as the day progresses. Depending on the day there may be small dips here and there as the anxiety dissipates or spikes here and there as the anxiety surges. By and large this curve maps the moods of my day. If I am able to get something done on my todo list in the mid day to afternoon timeframe, my anxiety abates pretty regularly. It is as if I have to get past a small spike in anxiety in order for that anxiety to continue to drop as the afternoon and the day progresses.

This post would be that much better if I could provide readers with a picture of what I am talking about — so sorry that my blogging abilities do not incorporate importing a picture of parallel mood lines on the one hand and an anxiety curve dissipating generally as the day progresses on the other hand.

Does this graphic description seem relevant for others with bipolar and/or anxiety disorders? What is the same and what is different about your mood curves?

I had a run-in with my therapist yesterday

I had a run-in with my therapist yesterday. I was talking about having a lot on my plate with a daughter going off to college soon, a Mom needing cataract surgery and me not knowing for a week or so about a brain tumor and whether that required follow-up with the neurologist. Thankfully it does not.

Where my therapist and I disagreed was whether I had a lot on my plate. It is true my daughter is a stellar student and good athlete. So she is likely to get into some if not several colleges of her choice. But, that does not mean my feelings on her behalf don’t include anxiety. I was diagnosed with bipolar while in college — so that makes me worry about her.

My therapist also reminded me that my sister is the point person for my Mom’s cataract surgery and there is very little for me to do there. From my point of view it is difficult to have my Mom age, it is difficult in having to set limits on how much I can help with her care because of the bipolar (like driving across town at 5:00/5:30am under heavy sedation with meds). It is also stressful for me to see my Mom as she insists until recently on driving herself and I don’t feel that is safe.

The MRI for a brain tumor was stressful because I did not know if I would need brain surgery – literally.

My admiration for my therapist is at a low point. Rather than acknowledging all these stressors, she basically said I did not have a lot on my plate and I should be doing better. She texted me that she thought I had enormous difficulty managing my own life and to stop trying to manage other people instead of managing my own struggles.

This is the first time in 13 plus years where my therapist in my view made the wrong call. If I were in a wheel chair, the doctors would not necessarily believe I should walk again but that I should be making the most of my life albeit in a wheelchair. For the first time in 13 years, I feel my therapist just “doesn’t get it.” I feel she doesn’t get it that anxiety can be really rough even if it looks like things on the outside are pretty much handled. The anxiety doesn’t necessarily go away when life’s challenges are getting managed one way or another.

Has anyone had this kind of fall-out with their therapist or their doctor? Any ideas on how best to move forward?

Back in 2004/2005 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor

During a routine MRI after my daughter was born, a frontal meningioma was found – that is a small tumor in the brain sac likely benign. I was told at the time not to worry about it. In 2013, I asked the doctor specifically if follow-up was needed. He said no unless there were new symptoms. For about the last two years, I have been experiencing additional anxiety and short-term memory loss. I am unsure whether these are signs of the bipolar condition progressing with age or are symptoms of the meningioma pressing on the frontal lobe.

Friday, I had an MRI of the brain and should know the results next week. There is a part of me that is hoping it is pressure on the frontal lobe so that once removed my anxiety and memory loss should be better. It is craziness to think that way, but there you have it.